Shamim Akhtar, Pakistan’s first female truck driver, has emerged fearlessly through a multitude of hardships, gender-based stereotypes and discrimination; victorious in her mission of propagating that no boundaries, no obstacles and no society can hinder determination and persistence.
A single mother, Akhtar had been driving a car for many years to bring her children up. When hardships befell, however, she did not hesitate in taking on the bigger challenges. She quickly started taking lessons on driving bigger vehicles, and soon obtained her public service vehicle license, a first for any Pakistani woman.
Her first assignment was driving a truck from Rawalpindi to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, transporting 7000 bricks across a 200 km distance; a daunting task for many. And yet Akhtar set off on this journey, breaking through the confines of the “aurat aur chaar deewari” (females should limit themselves to the domestic sphere of life) mindset prevalent in Pakistan.
Akhtar hasn’t stopped there; she has used her formal training and experience to give lessons to many male Pakistani drivers, most of whom are new to the profession. Her co-workers and students have immense respect and admiration for her. However, belonging to a society deep rooted in male domination and inequality, she still faces discrimination and criticism. One of these unfortunate incidents took place when she was told there weren’t any jobs reserved for women, after passing the test and holding all other requirements for a new Islamabad bus service.
Committed to providing better services to the people of Pakistan for a better tomorrow, Ufone stands beside those who brave through their struggles with unwavering determination and hard work, steering the country towards a better future. Ufone lauds these unsung heroes of Pakistan, who, like Shamim Akhtar, carve a path for themselves, and in doing so, set examples for everyone to follow.